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Module Enhancement
Designing and Revising Curriculum for Graduate Taught Programmes
Project: Designing and Revising Curriculum for Graduate Taught Programmes
Project Team: Geraldine O’Neill, Diane Cashman, Aine Galvin, Leone Gately,
Collaborator(s): Graduate Studies Office, Library, educational technologists, academic staff, students and other related units in UCD.


not applicable



With a growing portfolio of postgraduate students in UCD, this strategic programme of work will support graduate programme approval, design and implementation. It will address the existing and emerging requirements of programmes that are fully online, blended and/or face-to-face. In response to the institution’s emerging strategy and the nature of the students on these programmes, there will be an emphasis in the development of teaching and learning support for international students.


A significant element of this work will be the development of programme enhancement, linking in with the institution’s policy, related units (i.e. Graduate Studies Office, Academic Secretariat Library) and national evaluation tools and processes  (i.e. ISSE). 


The aims of this project are to:

  • Develop a strategic approach to programme development for the graduate taught portfolio in UCD.
  • Support staff in the design and implementation of these programmes
  • Investigate and define quality measures for enhancement of blended / online programmes & modules
  • Develop a suite of peer/self-review tools to assist staff in the design and / or enhancement of programmes, aligning with established programme and module student feedback mechanisms
  • Customise a number of programme design & enhancement workshops and resources, to support the:
    • Design of new graduate programmes
    • Review and enhancement of existing graduate programmes
  • In conjunction with key UCD support units and the Deputy Registrar for Graduate Studies, put in place a holistic range of supports and advice for staff to support the development, approval and implementation of new and existing programmes.
  • Offer ‘just in time’ support and services to Schools / Programmes.

Individual Programme Design or Enhancement

UCD Teaching & Learning will adopt a team-approach to the development of identified programmes, working systematically with a cross-section of stakeholders in the programme design, i.e. staff, students, educational technologists, graduate studies and library staff, etc.


Staff Development Workshops

A series of workshops to support staff in this area will be delivered in 2014 / 2015. The workshop series will have two parts, with the first exploring graduate programme design and the second focusing on module design. There will be an emphasis on the design of blended and on-line modules, exploring the teaching, learning and e-assessment approaches in these modules.


Programme-specific workshops and supports will also follow a similar methodology, working from programme to module design and enhancement.


The outputs of the project will be evaluated through a mixed methods research approach. 


Some key supports that have been established:

A) Staff Development Workshops

A series of workshops to support staff in this area has been established, for details see UCD T&L workshop calendar

B) Self-Help Resources

Those who would like to start by exploring the current advice in this area might like to consult Curriculum Design in Higher Education: Theory to Practice   As the project progresses there will be growing references and supports specifically for the postgraduate programme context.

C) Supporting Programme Approvals

In planning a  new programme in UCD, Schools must follow key phases and complete programme approval forms, as outlined in the new programme lifecycle,  by UCD Academic Secretariat, . UCD Teaching & Learning offer a range of services to support Schools making key curriculum design decisions in the process of completing PDARF application forms, i.e. programme learning outcomes, teaching and assessment approaches, programme structure, etc. As part of this project, the key UCD units in this process are collaborating to give joint workshops on this process, i.e. Graduate Studies, UCD T&L, Academic Secretariat, etc.  For details see UCD T&L workshop calendar


In March-April 2015, as part of this project, a study was carried out to combine empirical evidence and expert opinion to develop a tool that will assist staff in the self/peer review their online programmes and modules (including Masters programmes). The first part of this study was presented at the ITLA 2015 conference (see O’Neill & Cashman 2015b). In September-December 2015, a Delphi study was carried out to ‘to collect data from a panel of selected subjects’ to finalise the tool (Hsu & Sandford, 2007, p1).

Next Steps:

The project will initially build on developing collaborations between the UCD units involved in programme approval, design, implementation and evaluation of postgraduate curriculum. UCD Teaching & Learning will develop more just-in-time resources for programme development, in particular to enhance the advice in the area of blended and on-line postgraduate programmes. The different components of the project will be evaluated, building on the evidence-based practice in this area.

This project focussed on post-graduate programmes in UCD. The materials developed from this project will be a useful resource for the new strategic institution-wide Curriculum Review and Enhancement project (2015-2017). This new project will explore undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum.